Reducing Period of Pre-Election Campaign Useful for Opposition: Chairman of Azerbaijan Parliament’s Commission

Azerbaijan, Baku, 7 June /corr. Trend E.Babayev / Azerbaijan Parliament's Permanent Commission for Legal Policy and State Establishment expressed its position on the issues, which the opposition protests against after making annexes and changes to the Electoral Code. "Democratic development which takes place in Azerbaijan, experience of the previous elections, as well as international standards on election legislation and positive practice of various countries have been taken into consideration," Chairman of the Commission, Ali Huseynov, briefed the media on 6 June.

Presidential elections in Azerbaijan will take place on 15 October. The draft of amendments and supplements into the Election Code of Azerbaijan were passed by the Parliament on 2 June. Under the current draft, the term of election campaign was decreased from 120 days to 75 days and number of electorate signatures, which the candidates have to present to the Central Election Commission for registration, was cut from 45,000 to 40,000, as well as there was put a prohibition to hold paid and free agitation on TV, radio and newspaper, financed by the government. Most of opposition parties were dissatisfied with the amendments and said that they limit opportunities of the opposition.

Huseynov said that liquidating pre-election agitation on TV, radio and newspaper, financed by the government is fully logical. "Because State should remain neutral in this process. However, this prohibition is not referred as to public TV and radio organizations. The Code contains article 81.11 which says that the paid ether time for the pre-election agitation on TV and radio shall be allocated in accordance with the advertisement legislation. This item is necessary to ensure equality. According to the amendments to article 87.7, hanging agitation materials on buildings and other facilities, excluding apartments, shall be prohibited. It is aimed at preventing expenses on clean-up of agitation materials after elections in large cities, especially in Baku," Huseynov said, adding that the amount of the election fund for the candidates in Presidential and Parliamentary elections was increased by several times: the fund of presidential candidates totals AZN 10mln and parliamentary candidate - AN 500,000. "I think that this amount is very important to hold election campaign in a transparent and necessary level," Chairman of the Commission said. With regards to reduction of the period of the pre-election campaign from 120 days to 75 days, he said that it is based on the international experience and election practice. "For instance, this period totals 72 days in Hungary, 60 days in Georgia, 45 days in Romania, 90 days in Serbia and Kazakhstan, three months in Russia. The suggestion made by the Government is an optimal variant. As per accusations of opposition, I think that reducing the period is very useful for them. Because the opposition camp not possessing any authority in the society has nothing to tell people, they do not have program. Indeed, the power has wide opportunities to hold propaganda and this issue is not problem for it," Huseynov said.

The correspondent can be contacted at: [email protected]

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